(A vote of thanks by Martin Akpan)
Glutted with bliss, the heart
Pulsates with sizzling humour
And the lips resonate with
Rivulets of joy
An eruption of a cocktail of joyful songs
Dovetailing into hymns of praise
And dance of
‘Thank you’ are magic words
That unlock an effulgence of aurora
To light up the corridors of darkness
And shatter the granite of ingratitude
Birthing an elixir of love and affection
To strengthen the bond of brotherhood
And camaraderie
But how do you say ‘thank you’ in poetry?
For the Boss of Uyo Book Club that’s an order
That must be obeyed
Like Poet TC Nwosu asking you to recite
poetry in a stammering voice
Even when he knows you are not a stammerer.
Do I follow the path
paved with the smooth asphalt of Achebean prose?
Or trudge along the obscurantist corridors of Soyinkan poesy?
Or simply take the middle course
Guided by Chiweizu’s admonition
That poetry is not mental indigestion?
Regardless, I’m obligated to say ‘thank you’ in this arena
And ‘thank you’ I must say
Whether in the coded language of the initiated
Or in the simple idiom of the uninitiated
‘Tis right, apt and compellingly apposite
To not say ‘thank you’ would mean to fail to acknowledge
The invaluable roles and contributions of men and women
In our enchanting world of books-
The bookmakers, book lovers and book promoters
Who pull the strings of this success story
To the Almighty God whose seminal word at creation
Availed man the enduring building blocks of books
And endued mankind with unlimited abilities to create
We say a big thank you
To imagine a world without books is to fancy
A world of aridity: stunted with stalled human progress
A decapitated world of inertia and nothingness
Where the noble dreams of men would be tomahawked or guillotined
By reactionary forces of ignorance and superstition
But thank God for the Holy Writ, the Diamond Sutra, the Epic of Gilgamesh
And the pioneering roles of the Glutenburgs in bookmaking
To them I say thank you for being the pathfinders
Could Nigeria’s first book clubs conference have come to Uyo
Without the imprimatur of the Network of Book Clubs
and Reading Promoters in Nigeria?
Richard Mammah, Network’s vibrant President
Please take a bow
As we rock and roll in a roller coaster
Of confetti and fireworks
To celebrate Uyo as Nigeria’s premier Book City
Akwa Ibom cannot forget you in a hurry
For Udeme Nana, the paterfamilias of Uyo Book Club!
Thank you is not enough
For daring to battle the force of superstition
Amid prolonged labour In the womb of time
With the dexterity of a skilled obstetrician
Or my village midwife, Nne Ekpo Idiong
To herald the birth of our precious UBC
We salute your tenacity and stoic devotion
To refine the sensibilities of the plebes
In gold your name is etched in the hearts of men
For thank you alone is not enough
Ekong Sampson-lawyer, philanthropist, book addict
Patron of Uyo Book Club and Conference Chief planner
Your love for books runs lemminglike in your blood
You have sheltered, clothed, nurtured, guided and guarded
The very heart of the book in this salubrious milieu.
With so much warmth, passion and avuncular fervor
Providing the props, the stilts and the fillip of sustenance
Even the heavens will eternally sing your praises
For our thank you is not enough.
To compensate for your toil and moil
How can we consummate the joy of this celebration
Without a roll call of the stars, celebrities, influencers,
exemplars, movers and shakers of this unique fiesta?
Assam Assam-Eminent statesman, SAN and Chair of session
Idongesit Etiebet- Education Commissioner and Rep of the Governor
Ekikere Umoh- Rep of the Dep Governor
Mandu Umoren- Clerk and Rep of the Speaker
Felicia Etim- erudite professor and keynote speaker
Ray Ekpu-Media guru, ace writer, international award-winning Editor
Anietie Usen- the celebrated Village Boy
Nyaknno Osso-World renowned librarian
Ita Mbaba- Eminent jurist and prolific writer
Not forgetting our inimitable:
Des Wilson, Ntiense Utuk, Emmanuel Okoro
Sam Akpe, Joe Ushie, Wale Okediran, Jude Idada, Abom Tony Esu, Funmi Ilori, Bryce Edem, NTA Efo,
Iboro Otongaran, Celestine Mel, Iniobong Leroi, Borono Bassey,
Ekomobong, Udeme Udoma, Queen Maadiah Johnson etc etc etc
The authors, media gurus, sponsors, students, the Watbridge family, book vendors and promoters
All the cerebral cognoscenti in the house, we salute you
You are the turbines
The turbo-props
And the turbo-jets
Of our bookride
Thank you is not enough to eulogize
The man of peace and the Senior Peace Advocate of Nigeria
For without peace in Uyo, Nigeria’s premier book fiesta
Would be a mirage, a will-o’- the-wisp or a mere pipe dream
Governor Udom Emmanuel, your name will be emblazoned in gold letters
In the annals of history and entombed for eternity
For now, a standing ovation is what we can offer
For a mere thank you is not enough
Book lovers and promoters
Should I say my job is done?
Perhaps…but with a lacuna:
The absence of poetic moieties
In my menu of thank you
For being remiss in this regard
I crave for the protection of their excellencies
From possible eviction
By the Boss
From the Book House
Thank you all.

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